LGBT student groups and gay-straight alliances in high schools and colleges across the country often sell T-shirts for National coming out Day to raise funds and spread awareness about the LGBT community.
The Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA) at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota is no exception. This year, like every year, the group printed shirts proclaiming that “love is love.” But this National coming out Day took on greater significance in Minnesota because it came less than one month before voters there will decide whether to enshrine marriage discrimination into the constitution.
Against that emotionally-charged backdrop, one student decided to use National coming out Day — a day for celebrating the LGBT community — to spread a bigoted, hateful message. Minnesota Public Radio reports about Concordia College senior Rebecca Julius:
Julius, a devout Wisconsin Synod Lutheran, designed black T-shirts that say “sin is sin” across the front and list three Bible passages about truth and evil on the back.
“I don’t identify with all these people that say homosexuality is a perfectly acceptable way to live; that’s not me,” she said. “So the reason I wanted to do this T-shirt was one, to stand up for God’s word because I feel like it’s getting completely trampled in this place that’s supposed to be Christian and two, to just separate myself from it and not give anybody the impression that this what I believe.”
Just to give you an idea of the likely depth of Ms. Julius’s anti-gay views, I’ll point out that the Wisconsin Synod Lutheran (WELS) Church is the same denomination that Michele and Marcus Bachmann belonged to for more than a decade.
Needless to say, Julius’s shirts were incredibly divisive on the 2,700-person campus, particularly because LGBT people are widely accepted there. Most “Cobbers,” as Concordia students are known, oppose the marriage amendment. But that didn’t deter Julius in the least. In fact, it seems to have emboldened her — according to the MPR report, she chose to go public with her anti-gay views “to reach out to others who oppose homosexuality but who might be nervous about sharing their opinion ‘because it’s not really the socially acceptable thing to do.’” A few like-minded students even ordered “sin is sin” shirts of their own.
Of course, like most hardcore homophobes, Julius is thoroughly convinced that her efforts have a heavenly imprimatur. She told MPR:
“I’ve definitely felt alone at more than one point on campus and I feel like I don’t necessarily fit the ‘Cobber mode’ but that’s OK with me because I know where I stand with my faith. And I know I have so many people behind me and supporting me and I also know that God is proud of what I’m trying to do for him.”
This sad story of bigotry does have a silver lining, though. Rebecca Julius doesn’t actually live in Moorhead, but across the Red River in Fargo, North Dakota. So no matter how often she wears her hurtful and divisive T-shirt or how sinful she thinks LGBT people are, she won’t be able to cast her vote against them next month.